It seems every week brings fresh reports about the new and very harmful effects pornography is now having on our society, particularly on our young.
- “Study sees link between porn, sexual dysfunction in men,” reads a headline from the Chicago Tribune.
- “The emergence of the “pornosexual”: internet users who shun sex with real people,” is the title of a recent article in The Telegraph.
- “Kansas House declares pornography a public health crisis,” reported the Topeka Capital Journal.
These and similar reports often reach the same conclusion: today’s ease of access to free online pornography and the frequency of its use have combined to cause unprecedented changes to the parts of our brains that control the ability to form healthy relationships and have satisfying sexual experiences.
The reports also tend to carry a rather dire warning: while some adults are certainly being impacted, many children are having their sexual interests and abilities irreversibly altered by consuming large doses of pornography during their developmental years.
Doctors have been reporting alarmingly high rates of healthy young men being unable to have normal sexual activity with their partners, and some see a correlation between the condition and a long-term and frequent use of pornography. Some now believe that viewing large amounts of pornography during their adolescence – right when a person’s brain is growing and forming its neural pathways – has actually rewired the way they think about, and can act upon, their sexual desires.
The articles indicate that younger men aren’t simply reporting erectile dysfunction, which can be solved with medication. They’re having difficulty with libido and attraction, or the desire for sex and the ability to be “turned on” by their partner. These are considerably more difficult to treat, if not impossible, because they’re partly psychological.
It now seems that nurture has overtaken nature in this department, and the results are having devastating consequences. Sadly, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. We should expect more of these cases as the younger generation enters adulthood.
Perhaps some may be rolling their eyes as they read this. Maybe you had a few “dirty” magazines hidden under your bed in high school, watched a few porno flicks on the VHS back in the day, and may occasionally view online porn now and then, and might be thinking, “Hey, I’m fine. It hasn’t screwed-up my mind or body, so what’s the big deal?”
Sorry, but equating your experience with magazines and VHS players, and what you may have consumed as a mature adult, with what’s now available to your children on their smartphone is like comparing the light and heat from a candle to that of a wildfire. Times have changed, and our children are facing threats unimaginable in our day. So we try not to imagine them now … but they’re real. Very real.
I know this may be hard to read (it’s harder to write, trust me), but we must begin confronting this issue together. Because if we want our children to someday be capable of pleasing and enjoying their spouse inside a healthy marriage, then there are some hard truths we must admit and some clear dangers we must help our children avoid.
We parents must remain vigilant, and smart. We must become aware of our children’s surroundings and what they have access to online, and be the people who control it. That will take some time and effort, but they’re depending upon us.
When it’s appropriate (and sadly, that’s being forced at an earlier age these days), we must speak with them about pornography and its impact.
We must also learn what our schools are doing to control access, and what measures are taken in those households where our young children may frequent. We shouldn’t for a second feel embarrassed to ask about access to online pornography if we wouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask about access to firearms. Think about it: would you leave a loaded, unlocked weapon in your den, or allow your children to sleepover at someone’s house who did?
Folks, talking about this subject is as uncomfortable as it is unavoidable. But with honesty and frankness, we can confront this new and evolving threat together.